Bernie Ross – Behavioral Economics and Fundraising: Everything You Know About Donor Decision-Making is Wrong « Bridge Conference 2019

Bernie Ross – Behavioral Economics and Fundraising: Everything You Know About Donor Decision-Making is Wrong

 

In the same month, the cover stories of the Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Harvard Business Review have both centered on the science of decision making. This work has previously been explored in depth by Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his book Thinking Fast and Slow. This session explores how behavioral economics and neuroscience can transform our approach to fundraising in revolutionary ways. The session takes Kahneman’s work and combines it with the practical marketing thinking from Nudge (Thaler) and Predictably Irrational (Areily) to show how we can influence donors in ways of which they are not consciously aware. We’ll explore commercial and nonprofit examples of this approach and consider the ethical challenges this methodology creates. This session will provide the framework for how automatic and calculated parts of our brains interact and (occasionally but consistently) misfire, and then will draw the audience in to explore the fundraising implications for their organizations. Specific implications will include the importance of displaying the progress of a campaign, how appeals “anchor” our donors’ gift amounts, and the neurological necessity for stories to connect in a tangible, immediate, and concrete manner. After establishing the parts of behavioral economics that are hardwired in our brains, we’ll explore how fundraisers can apply this radical thinking and approach to their fundraising. We’ll show how this work has been applied by a number of organizations from SoS Childrens’ Villages to UNICEF and Greenpeace.